I have been walking two miles every morning while my son is at swim practice. Today, I ran 3/4 of a mile of that walk.
Six and a half years ago, I would run. I played soccer (not well, but I played). I could chase after my kids with ease and I was always up for being a sub on a volleyball or softball team. In December of 2013, I was playing coed recreational indoor soccer (that’s important to share because this was not a sport that should be taken too seriously); it was for fun and to stay active. I had a guy take a cheap shot and purposely kick me hard on the outer part of my left knee.
I don’t remember what I felt at the point besides pain, indescribable pain. I laid on the ground and I was screaming. The guy who kicked me mumbled that I deserved it and he was kicked out of the game. I only know this because some of my teammates shared that with me. I guess his part in the story ended there, but mine was just beginning.
After a week of ER and doctor visits and MRI scans, it was determined that my knee was torn to shreds. It’s easier to share what was torn and not what wasn’t. I had a four and a half hour surgery a week shy of Christmas to repair all the damage. If we want to get technical, my surgery was a Lateral Collateral Ligament and Posterolateral Corner Reconstruction and ACL Reconstruction using Hamstring Graft. Woah! Yeah, say that three times fast.
I spent five days in the hospital and was discharged on Dec. 22. I went to my Mom’s house for 24-hour care until Christmas Eve. I would have stayed longer, but I had to be home with my children for Christmas. Other people wrapped my children’s Christmas gifts that year. Other people took them to see Santa. Other people washed their clothes and dressed them for Christmas church service. Sometimes those “other people” were their Dad, but it was a job I had and I wish I could have done. December 2013 was absolute hell.
The months went on.
My Mom literally moved in with us because I couldn’t do anything. I used a wheelchair sometimes, but typically I just “crutched” everywhere. I didn’t bear weight on my left leg for four months. My Mom also had the unfortunate job of losing the Grandma role and becoming Mom to my rambunctious twins, who were 4, and my 7-year-old. She had to reprimand them, but she got to play with them, too. And she did all the other chores that my home required – laundry, cleaning, cooking, packing lunches, etc.
My husband continued to work his butt off every day, while I couldn’t work. Medical bills started piling up. I had a second surgery done in March and had more physical therapy after that. It was awful.
Since then, I haven’t done much physical activity besides walking. I will never try playing soccer again. To this day, walking on uneven ground is difficult. Walking down a big hill or a long series of steps takes a great deal of concentration and it’s slow. Part of it is the injury to my knee, and part of it is that I am so apprehensive because the idea of hurting myself like that again is absolutely terrifying.
I was a bench-warmer in my own life for nearly five months.
I didn’t get to participate. I just had to watch as other people raised my kids, cooked my meals, cleaned my house. I hid my depression with jokes but cried when I was alone. I fought off really scary thoughts and hated who I was. I felt so small. In that time, I found a better understanding of God and who he was. I was forced to depend on him because I couldn’t depend on myself or anyone else. It was the darkest and weakest time in my life. I wasn’t a needy person before that day in December. I ran my family with pride and attitude. I became a shell of my former self during that time.
Bu today, I ran. Just 3/4 of a mile, but it’s a big deal because I never thought I would run again. I didn’t run fast and I won’t be participating in any marathons anytime soon, but I did it. Imagine Dragons was blaring through my earbuds, and I looked straight ahead and thought, I can run for 30 seconds. Then I said I can reach that telephone poll. Then I said I could get to that street sign and I did.
As a Mom, you can become so engulfed in everything for your kids and lose goals for yourself. I didn’t have a goal to run when I set out for a walk this morning, but it hit me in that brief time. My morning walk during swim practice is for me and me alone. It’s 30-40 minutes for myself. I was alone with my thoughts and some music and I went. I went further than I expected and once I knew I had pushed myself far enough, I almost cried when I saw how far I had gone. I’m not sure what other trials I will face in the coming years, but I think I will often return to that moment this morning when I did something I didn’t think was possible.
That jerk on the recreational soccer field took a lot from me, but slowly (and I mean very slowly) I’m gaining it back. I learned a lot in my time of neediness and for that, I thank him… and today I forgave him.
Forgiving someone who was never sorry isn’t easy, but I have. He’ll never know it, but I do and that’s enough. Tough times in our lives rarely last. It’s easier to see that when you are no longer in the thick of it. I’ll be forever grateful for the loss of independence I experienced because it forced me to find strength I didn’t know I had.